Cases for police-related deaths down 7%

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cape Town - The number of investigations carried out into deaths in police custody and deaths as a result of police action have decreased 7% over the previous financial year, the Executive Director of the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD), Francois Beukman, said today.

Briefing the National Assembly's Portfolio Committee on Police on the ICD's 2010/11 annual report, Beukman said his directorate opened 5 869 cases during the last financial year, of which 797 were as a result of police action and deaths in custody - down from 860 in the 2009/10 year.

This, while the overall the number of cases declined by 8%, from the 6 377 cases received the year before, with all provinces except Limpopo (up 13%) and Gauteng (up 7%) experiencing decreases in the number of cases of between 7% (Western Cape) and 23% (North West).

Domestic violence non-compliance decreased by 19% (from 126 to 102 cases) and complaints of misconduct declined by 15% (from 2 929 to 2 477), while criminal offences experienced just a 1% increase (from 2 462 to 2 493 cases).

The ICD's report revealed that the 257 cases into deaths in police custody declined 13% from 294 deaths the year before, while cases of deaths as a result of police action were down 5%, from 566 to 540.

Of the deaths in police custody, 44% were as a result of natural causes, while 31% were as a result of injuries sustained before custody and a further 25% as a result of injuries sustained while in custody.

From the 540 deaths as a result of police action, 38% died during the course of an arrest, 20% during the course of a crime and 12% during the course of investigation.

A further 45 deaths (8%) were as a result of domestic violence and off-duty deaths, while another 40 deaths were as a result of car accidents.

Beukman said the ICD, which had received an unqualified audit for the last financial year and spent 98% of its budget, had completed 82% of investigations of deaths in custody or as a result of police action, exceeding its target of 65%.

The directorate also completed 83% of its investigations into allegations of criminality against SAPS members, exceeding its target of 55%.

The directorate last year had to deal with a further 2 555 cases which were carried over from the 2009/10 year, which brought the total number of cases handled last year to 8 424 cases, but the ICD was able to complete 87% of these cases.

Of the provinces the North West and Northern Cape were the star performers, completing 99% of cases, while at the bottom of the list was Mpumalanga, which completed only 64% of its cases.

Beukman said in all, 2 261 recommendations were made to police management following disciplinary action, while a further 501 recommendations were made to the Directorate of Public Prosecutions.

He said the IDC spent a total of 1 014 days in court and in disciplinary tribunals, with 59 convictions obtained in courts, with sentences ranging from fines to 20-year jail terms, while a further 88 convictions were obtained from disciplinary processes.

Other cases are still pending finalisation in court and disciplinary tribunals, he said.

The ICD recorded no unauthorised or irregular expenditure in the last financial year.

Fruitless and wasteful expenditure amounting to R3 000 from two cases were recorded, but the full amount was later recovered by the directorate.

The ICD recorded a 7.5% vacancy rate - with 22 of the 292 posts not filled.

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